A Father's Day Tribute to My Mother

06/15/2015 06:29 pm ET | Updated Jun 15, 2016

I call my mother every Father's Day. She had to be two parents at the same time.


There was a man in the house, but I have made no secret about the fact that he was never a father to me, in any sense of the word.

Tina Fey may have thought she was creating a fictional character with The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt but there are truly those among us who are unbreakable, people like my mother who can come through hard times with optimism intact.

I will never forget the day when she served the divorce papers and got us all out of the house so that he would not hurt us.

My mother became a lion that day. I went from feeling frightened and hurt, to protected and loved.

When we all got back to the house my determined mother summoned forces within her I never knew existed. She became strong and dynamic. In record time she had 3 jobs. I remember one birthday when I got up early with my puppy, padded down the stairs, and after a day working and a night hostessing in a restaurant, she had slept maybe 3 hours before getting up early to surprise me with cinnamon rolls and a banana cream pie for my birthday.

It was at that moment that I truly understood what love was, and how powerful she was.

I left high school early and began college young. I was working and in many ways living independently. Yet she was always there, providing a great role model and doing what had to be done. When I needed my mother, she was there. When I needed a father, she was also there.

I realize now how hard that must have been for her and how much dedication it took to pull it off.

There is no question that my siblings and I (save my baby brother) never got along. Wars were still fought, tumult experienced. We were damaged goods. Yet she never wavered in her resolve to take care of her family.

To borrow from Helen Reddy...

You could bend, but never break her
It only served to make her
More determined to achieve her final goal
She came back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
She had deepened the conviction in her soul

Truly unbreakable.

Grandma Nancy's Cinnamon rolls are staying on my menu at the restaurant, and you and I know what that means.

Happy Father's Day, Ma!